Saturday, April 01, 2006

the truth is out there

Truth is the most controversial idea around. It’s behind everything we do. We only do the things we do because we have subscribed to the truth that would lead us to do such things. In a sense it is what we know that motivates us us. We drive because we know that the car will get us there faster, we run because we know it will get us in shape or because we know we can’t catch up to the person in front of us with out doing it, we eat because we know that it will satisfy our sensations. Truth gets a lot more complicated in matters of faith. Do I pray because I know God is listening? Or do I pray because I trust that He is listening. Do I get baptized because I know my life will be different afterwards? Or do I do it because I trust. Faith can exist without certainty… that’s what makes it faith. But there is still truth in faith. Though this truth may not be so clear that we always know it we can still somehow tap into it. This is the beauty of faith. We do things out of trust. Though we may not always be certain we believe and act anyway.

The problems don’t come when we’re uncertain of our faith. Real problems come when we are so certain that we start to think that our faith is the only faith that has any access to truth. We really enter the danger zone when we begin to think we have the market on truth. What was once faith becomes dogma, and not the good kind of dogma, but the kind that we feel must be protected at all costs. This dogma now becomes the center of our faith. Only by a subscription to this dogma, we believe, can someone really hold truth. This is a gravely dangerous thing. Not only do the things we once did out of faith become binding and enslaving but we also start pushing people away. We deny, with certainty, the thing of which we cannot be certain. We throw someone else’s faith in the trash because it might fail to hold perfectly to our doctrine. In essence we throw the baby out with the bathwater. We demand people to have certainty in the things we ourselves might not really need to be certain of in order to find truth. Certainty, not faith, becomes the basis by which we live and act. What is really true is that everyone has access to truth, maybe not all of it but indeed some of it. So if everyone has access to truth then maybe part of our job is to affirm the truth that we find in unexpected places.

For far too long the Church has been in the business of pointing out what is not true about other faiths thinking that we have the market on truth. We need to start, as Paul did in Acts 17, by pointing out what people are getting right. We need to affirm the truth we see in the places we may not have expected to find it. Then together we might be able to find where that truth really comes from. We Christians believe with whatever level of uncertainty that all truth really comes from God. As it has so frequently been said but is rarely lived out; “all truth is God’s truth.” So therefore, our task is to point out truth wherever we find it and then claim it. When we shut down anything that has falsity in it we may be closing the door on people who have found truth outside of Christianity.

8 comments:

Ashley said...

Great thoughts Wes! Amazing post!

Jim Johnson said...

"The problems don’t come when we’re uncertain of our faith. Real problems come when we are so certain that we start to think that our faith is the only faith that has any access to truth."

Boy Wes, you nailed an extremely important point. I've been in a debate on a message board where I'm getting beat up because I'm too blind to see their truth, which is indisputably the ONLY truth. I've also been told there how easy it is to understand if you are truly saved.

I believe God made the bible hard to make us work for understanding. He is giving us the gift of eternal life and I believe He expects us to do some heavy lifting along the way. Why shouldn't we? He is giving us blessing infinitely beyond what we could ever deserve--why should it be easy? People learn differnt things at different points in their walk, and we can all learn from people sharing the pieces of truth they have been led to.

Dan McGowan said...

So - does ultimate truth actually exist? Is there anything in scripture to answer that, apparently, very difficult question to answer?

WES ELLIS said...

Dan,
There is ultimate truth and I believe it can be known. I just don't think we're required to know it in order to be saved. We're required to believe it. Faith is a parodox. Faith is belief, even a sort of certainty in the things of which we may not be certain. We are called to faith.

Teresa said...

Well said! Jim, I like your comments and Wes I really liked your response to Dan.

Dan McGowan said...

I went back and re-read the post that heads this thread and am still not sure why you brought up the issue of being saved in your reply to me... I never spoke to that... nor does your initial post. I am simply asking if such a thing actually exists as "ultimate truth?" Is there "one truth" that we can and should adhere to or is there, as you suggest in your post, a much broader "truth" that can be found through more than what Christianity has to offer?

Teresa, I'm glad you liked Wes' reply to me though I'm not sure it really answered the question I asked... are you?

WES ELLIS said...

Dan,
My answer to the initial question was yes... "There is ultimate truth and I believe it can be known." But you've added a new part to your question; "is there... a much broader 'truth' that can be found through more than what Christianity has to offer?" the answer to this is also yes. there isn't an 'either/or' to this question. There is one ultimate truth and some of it can be found outside of Christianity. But if we do well for ourselves it will not stay outside of Christianity.

Jusaism is my favorite example. The jews have a rich understanding of our Old Testament. When the jews say something about what's going on in Scriptures we should listen. Budhism has alot to offer as well. Their transcendant philosophy and their understanding of the interconnectedness of people offers alot for us to consider and apply to the way we see the Church. It isn't that all of their ideas are true but whenever we see the truth we should affirm it. Everyone has access to truth. If this is true then our job isn't always to tell them where they are wrong but it is to show them where that truth comes from. All truth is God's truth.

I hope I have answered you question.
Shalom,
Wes

Dan McGowan said...

Yes, Wes, you answered my question.